Skip to main content

Micah 5-7



I thought I would offer something different for my commentary on today’s reading. I know it is a little bit early for some of us to be thinking about Christmas. However, here is an excerpt from my book, Open Before Christmas, that touches upon a passage in our reading for today….

An article appeared in the Associated Press one December day a number of years ago:

Israel might declare Bethlehem a closed military area on Christmas Eve, preventing worshippers from arriving there….

Bethlehem’s mayor has already canceled Christmas Eve celebrations in the town because of more than two months of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The violence has driven away most tourists, hitting Bethlehem’s economy hard.

The daily Maariv said Prime Minister Ehud Barak was considering imposing the restrictions if Palestinians do not stop firing on the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, not far from Bethlehem. Israel television broadcast a similar report.

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.” Not so still these days, is it? But 2,700 years ago when Micah wrote his prophecy, about the birth of the Messiah,
Bethlehem was considerably more quiet, a seemingly insignificant place. Let us see what Micah has to say about the coming of the Messiah….

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)

Who sent the Son of God into the world? An answer is suggested in the words of Micah 5:2. “Out of you,” says the Lord speaking through the prophet Micah, “Out of you will come for me.” God the Father sent his Son into the world.

God the Father sent his Son into the world that he might be the Savior of all. Too often, we ascribe the honor for our salvation to the Son of God alone. We picture God the Father as angry at us for our sin and God the Son as pacifying that anger. However, such is not the case. God the Father loves us, and chose to become incarnate in his Son. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Imagine the depth of love that the Father must have had for us that he gave himself for us in Jesus of Nazareth. I remember when my father laid his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me before I got in the car and left California to travel all the way across the country and go to seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. I remember another day, when once again I was moving from California, this time with a family of my own, to pastor a church in South Carolina. The day before I left, my father gave me a Scripture to guide me. I still have that Scripture, which he printed out for me on his computer, framed and hanging in my house to this day.

Partings between fathers and sons who love each other are not easy. I have a hard time letting my kids leave for school, or leave to go next door to play with their friends, or leave to go to a birthday party. It was even more difficult when I had to say goodbye to my eldest son and send him off to college.

The love that God the Father has for his Son is infinitely greater than the love that any of us as human fathers have for our human sons or daughters. Yet, he loved us so much that he was willing to give his Son for us. He didn’t merely give his Son to travel across the country to go to college. No, he gave his Son to go from heaven to earth, from infinity to the finite, from spirit to occupying a body, from timeless eternity to the constraints of 24-hour days, from deity to humanity, from total life to death on a cross. When the Son of God left heaven, it had to be such an emotional parting that even the angels wept. They longed to be with the Son of God so much that they followed him down to earth just to watch and announce his birth.

I like the way Joseph Bayly put it in his Psalm for Christmas Eve...

Praise God for Christmas.
Praise Him for the Incarnation
for Word made flesh.
I will not sing
of shepherds watching flocks
on frosty night or angel choristers.
I will not sing of stable bare in Bethlehem or lowing oxen
wise men
trailing distant star
with gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing
praise to the Father
who stood on heaven’s threshold
and said farewell to His Son
as He stepped across the stars
to Bethlehem
and Jerusalem.
And I will sing praise to the infinite eternal Son
who became most finite a Baby
who would one day be executed
for my crimes.
Praise Him in the heavens.
Praise Him in the stable.
Praise Him in my heart.

Who sent the Son of God into the world? God the Father sent him, and he did it out of love for us.

If you want to learn more about my book, or order a signed copy, now is a great time to get it in preparation for Advent: Open Before Christmas

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

C. S. Lewis on Homosexuality

Arthur Greeves
In light of recent developments in the United States on the issue of gay marriage, I thought it would be interesting to revisit what C. S. Lewis thought about homosexuality. Lewis, who died in 1963, never wrote about same-sex marriage, but he did write, occasionally, about the topic of homosexuality in general. In the following I am quoting from my book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. For detailed references and footnotes, you may obtain a copy from Amazon, your local library, or by clicking on the book cover at the right....
In Surprised by Joy, Lewis claimed that homosexuality was a vice to which he was never tempted and that he found opaque to the imagination. For this reason he refused to say anything too strongly against the pederasty that he encountered at Malvern College, where he attended school from the age of fifteen to sixteen. Lewis did not rate pederasty as the greatest evil of the school because he felt the cruelty displayed at Malver…

A Prayer at Ground Zero

Christmas Day Thought from Henri Nouwen

"I keep thinking about the Christmas scene that Anthony arranged under the altar. This probably is the most meaningful "crib" I have ever seen. Three small woodcarved figures made in India: a poor woman, a poor man, and a small child between them. The carving is simple, nearly primitive. No eyes, no ears, no mouths, just the contours of the faces. The figures are smaller than a human hand - nearly too small to attract attention at all.
"But then - a beam of light shines on the three figures and projects large shadows on the wall of the sanctuary. That says it all. The light thrown on the smallness of Mary, Joseph, and the Child projects them as large, hopeful shadows against the walls of our life and our world.
"While looking at the intimate scene we already see the first outlines of the majesty and glory they represent. While witnessing the most human of human events, I see the majesty of God appearing on the horizon of my existence. While being moved by the ge…

Sheldon Vanauken Remembered

A good crowd gathered at the White Hart Cafe in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday, February 7 for a powerpoint presentation I gave on the life and work of Sheldon Vanauken. Van, as he was known to family and friends, was best known as the author of A Severe Mercy, the autobiography of his love relationship with his wife Jean "Davy" Palmer Davis.

While living in Oxford, England in the early 1950's, Van and Davy came to faith in Christ through the influence of C. S. Lewis. Van was a professor of history and English literature at Lynchburg College from 1948 until his retirement around 1980. A Severe Mercy tells the story of Davy's death from a mysterious liver ailment in 1955 and Van's subsequent dealing with grief. Van himself died from cancer in 1996.

It was my privilege to know Van for a brief period of time during the last year of his life. However, present at the White Hart on February 7 were some who knew Van far better than I did--Floyd Newman, one of Van's…

Mentoring

The first of four posts by yours truly is now up on the Next Leadership Blog. Check it out by clicking here: Mentoring.

C. S. Lewis Tour--London

The final two days of our C. S. Lewis Tour of Ireland & England were spent in London. Upon our arrival we enjoyed a panoramic tour of the city that included Westminster Abbey. A number of our tour participants chose to tour the inside of the Abbey where they were able to view the new C. S. Lewis plaque in Poets' Corner.


Though London was not one of Lewis' favorite places to visit, there are a number of locations associated with him. One which I have noted in my new book, In the Footsteps of C. S. Lewis, is Endsleigh Palace Hospital (25 Gordon Street, London) where Lewis recovered from his wounds received during the First World War....


Not too far away from this location is King's College, part of the University of London, located on the Strand, just off the River Thames. This is the location where Lewis gave the annual commemoration oration entitled The Inner Ring on 14 December 1944....


C. S. Lewis occasionally attended theatrical events in London. One of his favorites w…

C. S. Lewis's Parish Church

The first time I visited Oxford, in 1982, the porter at Magdalen College didn't even recognize the name--C. S. Lewis. I had asked him if he could give me directions to Lewis's former home in Headington Quarry. Obviously, he could not and did not. (Directions to Lewis's former home are now much easier to obtain. Just click here for directions and to arrange a tour: The Kilns.)
Things have changed a lot since 1982. Now Lewis is remembered all around Oxford. At the pub where the Inklings met, at Magdalen College, and not least--at his parish church--Holy Trinity Headington Quarry. The first time I visited the church I only saw the outside and Lewis's grave, shared with his brother Warnie.
Since that first visit I have returned to Holy Trinity a number of times and worshiped there. Father Tom Honey is a real gem. Under his leadership the congregation has grown and now includes a number of young families. I was overwhelmed by the number of children who came into the sanctuary…

Fact, Faith, Feeling

"Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where to get off', you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith." Mere Christianity


Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I remember seeing the graphic illustration above of what C. S. Lewis has, here, so eloquen…

A Christmas Psalm

Psalm 110
The Lord says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms,
Chapter XII, paragraphs 4 & 5:

"We find in our Prayer Books that Psalm 110 is one of those appointed for Christmas Day. We may at first be surprised by this. There is nothing in it about peace and good-will, nothing remotely sugg…

C. S. Lewis on Church Attendance

A friend's blog written yesterday (http://wesroberts.typepad.com/) got me thinking about C. S. Lewis's experience of the church. I wrote this in a comment on Wes Robert's blog:
It is interesting to note that C. S. Lewis attended the same small church for over thirty years. The experience was nothing spectacular on a weekly basis. For most of those years Lewis didn't care much for the sermons; he even sat behind a pillar so that the priest would not see the expression on his face. He attended the service without music because he so disliked hymns. And he left right after holy communion was served probably because he didn't like to engage in small talk with other parishioners after the service. But that life-long obedience in the same direction shaped Lewis in a way that nothing else could.
Lewis was once asked, "Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?"
His answer was as follows: &q…